US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

Uwe Romeike, Hannelore Romeike, Daniel Romeike, Lydia Romeike, Josua Romeike, Christian Romeike, Damaris Romeike

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike were a couple living in Germany who homeschooled their six children. There’s only one problem: in Germany, homeschooling has been against the law since the Nazis were in power.

After facing intimidation, abuse, and repeated fines (to the tune of $10,000 USD) the Romeikes chose to move to the United States to ask asylum and homeschool their children in peace. In 2010, they were granted political refuge by a US immigration judge. Like so many immigrants before them, they came to America seeking to exercise religious liberty in a way not afforded to them in their own nation.

But under Attorney General Eric Holder, the US Department of Justice wants to send them back. If they are forced to return to Germany and refuse to send their children to school, they face the very real threat of losing custody.

Now living in Tennessee, the Romeikes are being represented by Michael Farris, an attorney and the founder and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). Writes Farris:

The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a “particular social group.”

In most asylum cases, there is some guesswork necessary to figure out the government’s true motive—but not in this case. The Supreme Court of Germany declared that the purpose of the German ban on homeschooling was to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

This sounds elegant, perhaps, but at its core it is a frightening concept. This means that the German government wants to prohibit people who think differently from the government (on religious or philosophical grounds) from growing and developing into a force in society.

[...]

But, let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely.

There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights. This is a view which gives some acknowledgement to the principle of equal protection but which entirely jettisons the concept of fundamental liberties.

A second argument is revealing. The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

[...]

This argument necessarily means that the United States government believes that it would not violate your rights if our own government banned homeschooling entirely.

This is a dangerous precedent. If the position of the US DOJ is that there is no fundamental right for families to educate their own children, how long will it take before the right to do so is taken away in the US? The case is couched in language about individual vs. group rights as a basis for evidence of persecution, but what right is more fundamental in our nation than individual religious liberty, the very principle America was founded upon?

The continued encroachment upon religious liberty under this administration is chilling. Keep an eye on this case, as it will likely serve as a bellwether for what is to come for US homeschoolers.

 

 

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Categories:Education Politics Religious Liberty

27 thoughts on “US Department of Justice: No Fundamental Right to Homeschool

  1. A Concerned Citizen says:

    First of all, there are Muslims that homeschool in the US. I have seen them buying homeschool supplies and they never bother ed me. Secondly, what makes you think that all children who attend a government school get an “equal” or even adequate education.? There was no opportunity to homeschool when I was growing up – I would have liked to have been homeschooled. Government school was a great big waste. I was able to learn on my own because I am an avid reader. I homeschool my children so that they don’t become illiterates. I also want them to be able to do not only basic math, but higher math. We educate at home for Educational reasons. For most homeschoolers this is the bottom line.

  2. Monika says:

    Amazing how some people fear education.
    Fear it so much that they are unable to understand what the story is about.
    The family had every right to execute there religion. Without any restrictions!!!
    They did not obey the law that states that every child has to go to school!
    There radical Protestant believe does not state that children should not go to school – actually, nowhere in the version of the Bible this people read. it says: homeschool your children!
    And please check the laws of the country this people are coming from:
    First of all: In Germany every child has the right for an equal education despite there parents religious or political believes.
    Going to a school will give them the same opportunity to persuade a higher education like everybody else because in Germany there are no crutches for pigmentation, gender, religion or any other excuse you can use in the US because you did not study in school.
    It is called “Equal Opportunity” = same rules for everybody.
    I know it is hard to understand but there are no Colleges or Universities in Germany that teach creationism or that the world is 7000 years old.
    The law gives every child in Germany the chance and opportunity to reach every goal they want – the parents job is to teach them morals and believes.
    And second.
    If radical Christians can teach there kids at home by there believes and deny them a well rounded education than we have to give radical Muslims the same opportunity.
    But I am pretty sure you won’t like that.

  3. Jim Waler says:

    Seriously, if you guys want to help these people, let them know they can come to Canada and we’ll welcome them here, we allow homeschooling, and we won’t give them ridiculous hassles like your oppressed “land of the free”

  4. Rachel says:

    You can sign a petition for this family here:
    http://www.hslda.org/legal/cases/romeike.asp

  5. Marla Schmitz says:

    There is a petition on petitions.whitehouse.gov that needs 100,000 signatures by April 18th to compel the Obama administration to become involved in the asylum case. They currently need over 74,000 signatures. This is the link to the actual petition on the website http://wh.gov/sd2U

  6. Joe says:

    I know many successful people who were home schooled. Among them are lawyers, chemists, engineers, priests, and a Ph.D student at the University of Texas (who also earned a perfect score on his SAT). While home schooling is probably not the right choice for every student, it obviously can bear great fruit if done correctly. I hope and pray that the right to home school is preserved in America.

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